No matter how far away it may seem right now, your retirement is on the horizon. It’s an opportunity that opens up new possibilities, so you need to decide what you want to do with those golden years!

You might want to learn something new. Maybe the plan is to spend more time with your friends and family. Or perhaps there’s a destination on your bucket list that you can finally visit!

No matter what you want to do with your retirement, the following 6 tips can help you make these dreams a reality.

  1. Budget, budget, budget

A plan is key to the success of any activity, and your retirement is no different! To fully enjoy the years ahead, you’ll need to create a budget. You may need to revisit your budget over time as your priorities or needs change, but working out the anticipated costs ensures that you will make the right investment decisions now.

Build your budget with your partner so it aligns with the goals that are important to both of you. Include all the expenses you can think of, from housing or rental costs to hydro, from transportation to food. The more detail, the better you will be able to plan!

  1. Eliminate any debt

Once you know what your retirement is expected to cost, you’ll want to start with a clean slate. This means paying off any debt. While you are still in your income-earning years, create a plan to pay this down so you can redirect income towards your savings and investments to pay off in the future.

  1. Create an investment plan

Simply relying on your income isn’t enough to help you plan for retirement. You’ll need to work with a financial advisor to determine where and how much to invest. Your advisor can also help you to ensure that your retirement savings are invested appropriately for this new stage of your life, whether that be with an objective of growing your capital, generating retirement income from your savings or simply ensuring your capital is preserved for the next generation. In addition, they can ensure that your investments are structured in a tax efficient manner. This way, your money goes to the best places to meet your retirement needs.

You should also think about investing through a registered retirement savings plan to reap the tax benefits while you are still earning. Put as much as you can in your RRSP to take advantage of this program. Read about the top three things you should know about RRSPs here.

With a proper investment plan, you’ll be set financially even after you stop going to work everyday. Revisit your investment plan regularly by meeting with a financial advisor to ensure it is still the best way to reach your goal.

  1. Consider other income sources

Consider all avenues when calculating your post-retirement income. Don’t forget about government payments you may be entitled to receive. The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) can supplement your retirement income as early as age 60.

But receiving your benefits early isn’t always the best fit. You can defer the OAS, for example, for up to 5 years after you become eligible at age 65. This increases the amount you are eligible for by 0.6 percent for each month it is deferred — increasing your maximum benefit by 36 percent!

Your retirement planner can help you calculate the best time to begin drawing on these government benefits for the most advantage. Remember that you need to apply to these benefits before you will receive payment.

  1. Plan for your health

People are living longer than ever, but there’s no guarantee that those years will be full of good health. While you can — and should — choose to pursue an active lifestyle in retirement, you should also plan for the cost of care.

Unexpected health issues or a need for long-term care could become a retirement reality. It’s best to allow for that shift in your retirement plan to take care of yourself or your partner.

  1. Get some advice

You need to be able to trust that your retirement plan will lead you to the future you want. That’s why it can be reassuring to meet with professionals to ensure that you are on the right path.

From lawyers to tax experts to retirement planners, you need to work with experts you can trust to give you the best advice. A financial advisor can help you make the right decisions for your financial future, but the dreams are up to you.